Features of a Scriptural Church
Franklin Ferguson, New Zealand
1. The Church of God is a People "called out' and "separated" from the world by means of the Gospel (Acts 15. 14; John 17. 14); assuming the form of local Churches, otherwise called 'Churches of the .saints" (1 Cor, 14. 33); each Church designed of God to be a local representation of the greater Church and His witness in its immediate surroundings. It must be composed of believers only, for none but the redeemed can truly worship, and unconverted members are an unequal yoke." (Acts 5. 13/14; 2 Cor. 6. 14/18).
2. God's present dwelling is not-in "temples made with hands" (Acts 17. 24), but in the midst of His gathered people (Psalm 50. 5; Matt. 18. 20); His worship is not associated with an elaborate and costly ritual (John 4. 24).
3. All believers are a 'holy priesthood' (1 Pet. 2, 5), with equal right to draw nigh to God and other spiritual sacrifices (with certain restrictions on sisters, 1 Cor. 14. 34/35); all such distinctions as "clergy and laity" being man-imposed.
4. The children of God shall meet every Lords Day to break bread in remembrance of the Lord in His death, and worship the Father in spirit and in truth (I Cor. 11. 23/34: Acts 20. 7; John 4. 21/24); refusing all sectarian names (1 Cor 1. 10/13).
5. A one-man ministry is at variance with 1 Corinthians, Chapters 12 and 14; the Holy Spirit is Leader in all gatherings of the Church, whether for worship, prayer, or teaching; a presiding minister or chairman being out of place on such, occasions, and unsurping the Holy Spirit's office.
6. There are gifts given to the Church by the Lord for its building up, such as evangelists, pastors and teachers, not chosen and ordained of men, but qualified and empowered of the Holy Spirit, (Eph. 4. 11/16; 1 Cor. 12. 8/12).
7. The Holy Scriptures, inspired of God, are the Church's: only and all-sufficient appeal and guide (John 17. 14; Acts 20. 32; 2 Tim. 3, 16/17); arranged creeds, articles of faith etc., are merely selections of Apostolic teaching, not the whole and varying more or less, which fosters the pernicious notion of “essentials” and “non-essentials.”
8. All "Churches of the Saints" shall acknowledge the absolute Lordship of Christ, as "Son over His Own house, whose house are we" (Heb. 3. 6.); we cannot do as we may please, for His Will in Church order is before us in the Word.
9. Theological Colleges and Training Institutes for the fitting of young men as pastors or ministers of Churches, and as missionaries to the heathen, are nowhere found or suggested in the New Testament; nor is a hired ministry and the use of flattering and ecclesiastical titles (1 Cor. 7. 23; Job, 32. 21/22; Psalm 111. 9; Matt. 23. 8/11).
10. The church in its Universal Aspect is not an organisation, as the Roman Church; has no power or jurisdiction, and cannot be approached nor can it come together; there is not any "confederation of churches" of a country, province or district; nor are there national churches, as the 'Church of England," "Church of Scotland," etc. There is "One Body" - the Church, embracing all saints from the day of Pentecost until the Lord’s Coming. (Eph. 1. 22/23; Chap. 4. 4.).
11. Church testimony in the world is by local Churches each standing by itself and directly responsible to the Head in Heaven (Col. 2. 19, R.V.); without a confederacy or union of churches, though recognising the "unity of the Spirit," namely, one Body, Spirit, Hope, Lord, Faith, Baptism, God the Father (Eph. 1, 3/6); constituting a sweet fellowship arising from such a Divine "Unity." Elders, guides, overseers; or bishops (all meaning the same) are without official control beyond their local Church.
12. Rule and Discipline must be maintained in each local Church, through its elders, in accordance with the Word, for "holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord, for ever." (Acts 20, 28; 1 Pet. 5. 1/4; Heb. 13. 17; Psalm 93. 5.).
13. A woman's place in creation and in the Church is that of subjection (her long hair given as a sign of it): she is to keep silence in the church in public speaking and in prayer; otherwise she has a unique service taxing all her strength, time and skill (1 Cor. 11. 3/16; 1 Cor. 14. 24/35; 1 Tim. 2. 8. R.V.; verses 9/14; Rom. 16, 1/12; 1. Tim. 5. 5/14; Titus 2. 3/5).
14. God demands of His people separation from all sin, from conformity to this -world-system, and from religious evil and unequal yokes (2 Tim. 2. 19; 1 John 2. 15/17; 2 Cor, 6. 14/18; Rev. 18, 4). In identification with Christ we be come despised and rejected of men, strangers and sojourners, 'going forth unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach" (Heb. 13. 12/14). There can be no return to those things that have been left for Christ's sake (Jer, 15. 19; Gal. 2. 18).
15. Music in the Church. Instrumental music was cultivated and devoted of old to the service of God, as the Book of Psalms abundantly shows, and in accord with those ritualistic times. But in the New Testament there is no mention of music when the Church is come together (1 Cor. 11. 23/29 Chap. 14. 23/40), and is in keeping with the new order which is entirely spiritual (John 4. 23). There is, however, singing, the "'making melody in the heart" (Eph. 5. 19), and the accompaniment is 'with the spirit and with the under standing" (1 Cor. J4. 15).
16. (2) freedom from fundamental error and (3) a moral character above reproach. At the beginning of the Church the order was conversion, baptism by immersion, and adding (Acts 2. 41)—none but genuine believers, "and of the rest durst no man join himself to them" (Acts 5. 13). In receiving a person, the elders are responsible to see that all is in order; then the Church can gladly take to its heart the newcomer. In these "last days"' and 'perilous Limes" there is an increasing need to exercise a Godly care in all matters.
In conclusion let us teach along the old lines of truth, and the rising generation will gain an intelligent apprehension of what are the features of a true church position.